Black History Month 2017: Johnnie Lacy, Defiantly Black & Disabled

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Image of Johnnie shown smiling directly into the camera. She is sitting in her wheelchair wearing a buttoned shirt, with an office desk to her left.

Image of Johnnie shown smiling directly into the camera. She is sitting in her wheelchair wearing a buttoned shirt, with an office desk to her left.

In continuing with my Black History Month focus on Black disabled leaders, I am proudly sharing the story of Johnnie Lacy, a woman who directed the Community Resources for Independent Living (CRIL) in Hayward, California for over a decade.  The photograph of Johnnie is from the collection of Kenneth Stein, an advocate with a passion for history and highlighting those forgotten trailblazers that rivals my own.

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Black History Month 2017: Remembering Joyce Jackson, Black, Disabled, & Phenomenal

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Image of Joyce shown smiling, walking down the wide sidewalk in an Oct 20 t-shirt, with a large crowd of people with balloons and signs behind her. She is holding up the right side of a big banner that says "FULL RIGHTS FOR DISABLED PEOPLE -- IMPLEMENT 504."

Image of Joyce shown smiling, walking down the wide sidewalk in an Oct 20 t-shirt, with a large crowd of people with balloons and signs behind her. She is holding up the right side of a big banner that says “FULL RIGHTS FOR DISABLED PEOPLE — IMPLEMENT 504.”

For Black History Month 2017, I will feature the names, faces, and voices of Black disabled people who were a part of the influential advocacy efforts made during the heart of the Disability Rights Movement.  As I have stated on the blog, the erasure of Black disabled people from disability history is profound, and the same offenses are committed when we discuss Black history.  Taking action to correct these wrongs is a steadfast passion of my advocacy; these stories must be told so that Black disabled people will have disabled historical figures to look up to and be proud of.

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Black-ish & Speechless: The Night Primetime TV Got It Right

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Despite the seemingly limitless TV programming options that exist for our entertainment pleasure, very few target the identities I have in a manner that are affirmative and validating.  However, this month, two shows managed to meet this feat.  Black-ish and Speechless aired episodes that touched on difficult topics that rarely are discussed as candidly as they should – race relations and inspiration porn, respectively.  

Being that the nature of both episodes resonated with me profoundly, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss the significance of both, and why we need more shows to be authentic about the experiences and thoughts of marginalized people.  

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#Forever44: Thank You, President Obama

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Image of me with then Sen. Obama in 2008. In the photo is a young light-skinned Black woman in a wheelchair with a tall light-skinned Black man leaning next to her. Both people are smiling for the camera.

Today is the last day we will have Barack Obama as our President.  It was not until yesterday that this reality hit me hard emotionally.

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(In)Accessible Rooms: The Biggest Lie Told By The Hotel Industry

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2016 was the year when I traveled more than ever, and continuing my wanderlust is one of the resolutions I have for the new year.  Traveling as a wheelchair user means that there is more planning involved, especially when it comes to finding accessible places to stay.  Hotel companies are suppose to have available accessible rooms and proper accommodations within them, but many fall short to truly being accessible to those of us on four wheels.  I wanted to share my most recent incident, as it was a very poignant case of inaccessibility to date that I have endured.  

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Top 10 for 2016: Ramp Your Voice!’s Year in Review

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This year has been one where the Ramp Your Voice!’s blog broke its pageviews record by having 76,809 views, which is over double that seen last year (which was almost 30,000).  In keeping with record-shattering trends, the blog had 1,148 views in one day on February 4th, which beat last year’s record of 470.  This was also the year where the blog has become the space where I have expressed my unapologetic disabled Blackness.  I am so proud that I wrote many articles that targeted the Black disabled experience, and the effects and presence of white privilege and racism in our community,  2016 was when I felt comfortable in writing about what mattered to me without fearing being pigeon-holed by those within and outside of our community.  

As I did last year, I want to highlight the articles that received the most views and shares in 2016.  These works are some of my best features; a lot of my advocacy passions were evident in 2016.  It is a humbling moment when readers respect your voice, understand the emotions that are present, and support what you do fervently.  

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The Woodland Hills High School-to-Prison Pipeline

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Image of a group of protestors outside of a school building holding signs to show solidarity to the injustice committed to a disabled student.

The intersection of race and disability is often ignored when we discuss the injustices that disadvantage disabled students of color within our schools.  This oversight can mean grave consequences to students who live within these margins.  The school-to-prison pipeline disproportionately impacts disabled students of color (especially Black disabled students), yet very few are addressing what occurs in our schools; a recent incident in Pittsburgh caught my attention as being yet another example of how we are failing to advocate for and protect Black disabled students.  

On Twitter, disability rights advocate Dustin Gibson shared details about a Black disabled student at Woodland Hills High being victimized and dehumanized by his principal.  Dustin is a revolutionary in training in Pittsburgh that has centered his identity as a Black man with bipolar disorder in his work.  He builds with people impacted by systems both locally and nationally.  Organizing with the perspective that the people closest to the impact are closest to the solution, many of his efforts are grassroot.  

I asked Dustin if he would tell the story of the Woodland Hills incident, the connections between racism and ableism, and why Black disabled lives matter.  Here are his words:  

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Living in Trump’s America: Thoughts From a Black Disabled Woman

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It has been a month since the Presidential election, and the dust still has not settled from the shock of Donald Trump winning the coveted seat or the demand for recounts of votes.

It took me some time to find the words to articulate the reality that I will live in a Trump-led America come January.  This is the America that has no regard for human dignity, empathy, or compassion.  This is the America that we have tried so hard to deny that existed by erroneously stating that we lived in a post-racial society after electing our first Black president.  This is the America that those who are multi-marginalized like myself live in every day, and such realities will only get harsher as officials are appointed who actively support every type of bigotry and offense there is.  

I was asked by Nora Whelan, a writer for Buzzfeed, to share my thoughts about a Trump presidency as a disabled person, and the grave consequences for our community.  I know that many of us are still gathering our words, but I must continue to use my voice to speak the truth, and remain steadfast in the work that will lie ahead for us all.

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What I Am Thankful For: A Holiday Reflection

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This month has been an emotional rollercoaster for many, especially with the results of the Presidential election that has caused a real sense of fear and uncertainty to surface, particularly for those who are marginalized in our community.  I know personally that I have been doing a lot of self-care these past couple of weeks, and have been very mindful of my emotional, mental, and physical health.  

I decided to take a more light-hearted and reflective tone this week by listing what I am thankful for that has transpired this year.  This year has been strangely wonderful in the midst of juggling grief and major life transitions.  2016 will go down as probably the best “adulting” year of my life; a time where everything looked as if they would fall apart, yet somehow pieced together perfectly.  

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